Veterans to benefit from two Vella-Wilkinson bills

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Two bills that will benefit local military veterans were passed by the General Assembly and officially signed by Governor Gina Raimondo this legislative session – one to revive a federal program that aims to funnel veterans into schools as teachers and another to lessen the burden for veterans to gain access to property tax abatements.

Rep. Camille Vella-Wilkinson of Warwick, who is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, introduced both bills. Co-sponsors on the bills included Rep. Patricia Serpa, Rep. Evan Shanley and Rep. Joseph Solomon Jr. (all representing Warwick), Rep. Robert Lancia of Cranston, Rep. James McLaughlin (Cumberland, Central Falls), Rep. Carlos Tobon (Pawtucket) and Rep. Robert Nardolillo (Coventry).

The first bill, introduced in January, seeks to make it easier for veterans to earn certifications to become teachers following their service in the military by working in conjunction with the Troops to Teachers program, a federal program that since 1993 has helped over 20,000 veterans become teachers in its participating states.

“Veterans represent a large segment of the population whose skills, experience and dedication should be utilized to educate our youth,” said Vella-Wilkinson in a release. “If we don’t take advantage of all that veterans have to offer, then we’re just wasting a tremendous national resource. This is a program that can reduce veteran unemployment, improve education, and provide much needed diversity among the faculties in today’s classrooms.”

According to Meg Geoghegan, communications officer for the Rhode Island Department of Education, the department had once been in contact with federal representation from the Troops to Teachers program around 2011, but those talks had gone silent until Vella-Wilkinson brought up the issue again. Geoghegan said that RIDE will be more than happy to spark up the dialogue with the federal government once more.

Ward 3 City Councilman Timothy Howe, a 10-year veteran of the U.S. Army and a teacher of mathematics in Pawtucket, praised Vella-Wilkinson for helping bring the program to Rhode Island and said that military members have the potential to be superb educators.

“We [veterans] have experience in training and guidance and classroom management and also have the experience of being a leader and going out there and understanding that there are goals to meet,” Howe said.

In response to hearing some criticism of the program that veterans come from an environment that is too homogenized societally and procedurally, he strongly disagreed.

“I worked in a very diverse population in my 10 years in the Army,” he said. “I trained with guys from the biggest urban cities and guys who never left the woods of Missouri…every sandbox and populated city in this country. Teaching a diverse population is not new to the military.”

Howe said that the next step was to sit down with elected officials, including Vella-Wilkinson, and RIDE officials to determine best practices for implementing the program in the state.

Property tax exemptions

While property tax exemptions have been available to veterans for a long time in the Ocean State, one specification to receive the exemption had created a bar too high for many to qualify for such benefits, which spurred Vella-Wilkinson to work on changing the existing language surrounding the abatements.

“Over the years I have been approached by numerous veterans who honorably served but were not considered a ‘veteran’ because they were excluded from certain benefits,” Vella-Wilkinson said in the release.

The new legislation signed by Raimondo struck a requirement that the military veteran needed a Campaign Ribbon to qualify, which meant the veteran needed 30 consecutive days or 60 nonconsecutive days deployed in a foreign theater of combat. This eliminated those who have served for many years but were never deployed in a combat situation.

Property tax exemptions vary from community to community. In Warwick, the City Charter allows up to a $4,000 abatement for military veterans. In Cranston it is $3,000. The exemptions also apply to real and personal property in some communities. In Warwick, the new changes enacted by the General Assembly do not need to be voted on by the City Council in order to be enacted, according to Howe.

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richardcorrente

Way to go Camille Vella-Wilkinson!

You promised you would improve the benefits to Veterans and you kept your promise. I didn't realize that these citizens that risked their lives for their country were often-times refused property tax exemptions. Thank you for correcting that mistake. Veterans and non-Veterans alike (like me) admire your continuing effort.

Happy Summer to you and Ken.

Rick Corrente

Wednesday, July 11
Scal1024

Honest question Rick: Who do you think Camille Vella Wilkinson will endorse in the 2018 Democratic primary for Mayor? If I were a betting man I would say Joe Solomon based on his experience and public service. Meaning, for almost 4 years you've done nothing but rave/pander about the job Camille has done and her judgement. When that wonderful, dedicated, hardworking taxpayers advocate with great judgement is faced with picking the best candidate for mayor of Warwick in 2018: SHE WILL CHOOSE JOE SOLOMON OVER RICK CORRENTE.

My question is will Corrente then turn his back on Camille Vella Wilkinson and label her a "political insider" like he did to Joe Solomon? Or will he BE A MAN about it and acknowledge Camille endorsed the better, more qualified candidate.

Rick Corrente has been rambling incoherently for so long, he's actually started believing his own lies. Nothing else can explain this level of erratic behavior. Imagine calling the 2017 Warwick City Council the "hardest working City Council Warwick has ever had" and referring to them as "the taxpayers City Council", only to then turn around and call them "political insiders" one year later. Somebody should remind Rick Corrente that in 2016 HE TOOK DONATIONS FROM THESE "POLITICAL INSIDERS". They should also remind Rick Corrente of 2017 (when he was looking for more campaign donations from these public servants ) the City Council was then given the nickname "THE TAXPAYERS CITY COUNCIL" by Corrente. Then, something happened. Rick realized those donations were NOT going to come in 2018. So what did he do? Took all of those same public servants names he'd been pandering to for almost 4 years, and labeled them "political insiders". Now he tries to pretend that he has always been "above it". This is nothing more than propaganda by a deranged, mentally unhinged candidate who is literally watching his campaign unravel right before our eyes.

All of the dishonesty and deceit shown by the "tax delinquents candidate" adds up to a 4 year long, over $40,000 failing campaign thats accomplished NOTHING. Honest, hardworking, ACTUAL TAXPAYERS will continue to reject this fraud.

Wednesday, July 11
CrickeeRaven

Scal, I wonder if you remember how the make-believe mayor treated Warwick's veterans last time he had the opportunity to say something about them?

Here's what he said about the lack of a Memorial Day parade, that was due to local organizers falling ill and needing medical attention: "Not having a Memorial Day Parade... is a disgraceful slap in the face of the Veterans who risked their lives for our freedom. I don't know who is to blame. But it's disgraceful."

http://warwickonline.com/stories/no-parade-but-memorial-day-observance-planned-for-monday,134208?#comments

By comparison, Rep. Vella-Wilkinson did not make such uninformed and, yes, disgraceful comments -- she attended the city's memorial ceremony and personally honored the sacrifices of our veterans, and deserves credit for her work in the General Assembly to provide further benefits to them.

The make-believe mayor deserves the overwhelming and humiliating rejection that honest, taxpaying, veteran-honoring voters will deliver to his candidacy again this year,

Wednesday, July 11
richardcorrente

Interesting "honest" question. Scal wants to know if Camille will "endorse" me. The question is not if she will endorse me. The question is will she vote for me in the privacy of that voting booth, where people like you can't influence her. You said "if I were a betting man". Scal! We don't even know if you ARE a man...or a woman... or a child.

For the record, Camille and I don't always agree. We were on complete opposites of an issue some time back. We went to breakfast, debated it, and left still in total disagreement but with total respect for each others opinion.

That's what adults do Scal. If you ever decide to come clean, I will even pay for breakfast. Until then Camille's vote will remain her personal business, and I will still credit her when I feel she deserves it which is ALMOST all the time.

Fake news. Fake sources. Fake people. Fake names. like Scal1024

Happy Summer everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Wednesday, July 11
CrickeeRaven

Once again, Scal, the make-believe mayor dodges the question and makes more delusional statements. Rep. Vella-Wilkinson and the rest of the Warwick Democratic Party were right to endorse Mayor Solomon and distance themselves from the make-believe mayor in a very public and definitive way.

The fact that he does not understand this message is yet another defect in his candidacy, along with his pathetic belief that he will still, somehow, get votes from local elected officials like Rep. Vella-Wilkinson.

"We were on complete opposites of an issue some time back."

They're on opposite sides of an issue NOW, i.e., who should be the next mayor. And just as he did then, the make-believe mayor is refusing to listen and trying to make what he thinks is an effective argument.

Rep. Vella-Wilkinson publicly supports his opponent and will not magically vote for the make-believe mayor simply because he writes pandering comments on the Beacon website. She and thousands of honest, taxpaying voters who know how to properly honor our veterans will reject his candidacy, just as surely as he will continue to humiliate himself with his comments.

Wednesday, July 11